Dave Riley and Bob Corritore

Dave Riley and Bob Corritore
Travelin’ the Dirt Road

Blue Witch Records

By Art Tipaldi
April 2008

We all know what happened when Mississippi Delta blues took Highway 61 to Chicago and became electric Chicago blues. Here, Mississippi guitarist Dave Riley is ready to show what happened when Chicago electric returned to its roots.

Throughout his 57 years, Riley has traveled that same road. Born in Mississippi, he moved to Chicago when he was nine and experienced the blues of Maxwell Street, and the Gospel of family friend, Pops Staples.

After stints in Vietnam, Gospel groups, and a day job at Joliet state pen, Riley moved back and joined up with Frank Frost and Sam Carr, playing yearly at the King Biscuit festival, and at jukes throughout the Delta.

Harp player Bob Corritore has blues roots, too. Growing up in Chicago, he studied the harp tones of Big Walter and others, and then moved to Phoenix in 1981, where he's the owner of the Rhythm Room club, a respected producer of records, and a veteran blues radio host.

Together, they are nominated for a Blues Music Award this year for Acoustic Album of the Year.

This pair understands the depth of traditional harp-guitar Delta blues.

The disc opens with “I'm Not Your Junkman,” one of two songs by Riley's former band mate and fine Arkansas song writer, John Weston. Weston's other tune, “Doggone Blues,” finds Riley singing of the Delta dog that barks all night with the blues.

Riley's title tune is cut from a traditional Delta cloth, a modernized “Maggie Campbell,” or “Down the Dirt Road Blues.” Yet, Riley's juke joint guitar and Corritore's driving electric harp captures the song's modern feelings.

The acoustic “Overalls” is the song Riley and Corritore might be playin' on the front cover. It features Riley's Bobby Rush-styled rappin' lyrics answered by Corritore's full toned acoustic harmonica. The spare and haunting guitar and harp on “Come Here Woman” builds emotion like two late night, slow dancers in Eddy Mae's Cafe off Cherry Street.

Staying grounded in the Delta, Fred James' “Voodoo Woman, Voodoo Man” takes Riley deeper down his dirt road until he paints a down home picture of the Delta life on the shufflin' “Way Back Home.” Riley's “Let's Have Some Fun Tonight,” a derivative of Little Walter's “Everything's Gonna Be Alright,” gives Riley and Corritore a chance to honor the Chicago guitar and harmonica work of Walter and Louis Myers.

Never overplayed to affect emotion, Riley's compelling guitar and Corritore's laid back harmonica tones quietly possess the emotional fire natural to the era and locales of the music they love.



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